The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - March 2017

 Return to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Website

FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH 2017

Report by Dr Jeremiah Poghon

During March the Vet Unit attended to cases of injuries in elephants and other species due to poaching attempts by use of firearms and arrows. An autopsy on an elephant bull in Salaita, Tsavo West National Park revealed it had died of a bullet injury and four other carcasses were examined for cause of death but all were too decomposed for any meaningful autopsy to be undertaken. Several elephant calves were also rescued throughout the vast Tsavo Ecosystem and taken to the Nairobi Nursery.

CASE#1 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF 

Date: 7th March 2017

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 6 months

Location: Mzima pipeline, Tsavo East

Rescue

A report was made by tour operators regarding an elephant calf that fell into a temporary water hole along the Mzima water pipeline, Tsavo East and eventually abandoned by the mother. The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the young elephant in the shallow hole. He was extracted from the waterhole and examined, which revealed he was very weak and must have gone without milk for some time. The calf was airlifted to Nairobi for care.

The calf was airlifted to Nairobi for care.  he Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the young elephant in the shallow hole

CASE#2 ELEPHANT AUTOPSY

Date:           14th March 2017

Species:     Elephant

Sex:             Male

Age:            About 30 years

Location:     salaita, Tsavo east.

History

A report was made by KWS rangers of an elephant bull that was found dead in Salaita inside Tsavo West National Park with blood oozing from the neck and chest area and the tusks still intact.

Examination

The carcass was male, fresh and lying on the right flank. The tusks were recovered by KWS rangers. There was a penetrating wound at the top of the neck and the chest which were still oozing blood and pus. and exited at the right chest area. Ventral oedema was evident on the chest and abdominal area.

Cause of death was a high velocity projectile (bullet)  The carcass was male, fresh and lying on the right flank

Conclusion

Cause of death was a high velocity projectile (bullet) from the attempted poaching.

CASE#3 ELEPHANT AUTOPSY REPORT

Date: 15th March 2017

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Sobo area, Tsavo East

History

A report was made by KWS rangers of 3 elephant carcasses spotted within Tsavo East National Park. KWS requested for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Three carcasses were examined

Examinations

All three carcasses were visited and all were females as per the KWS records. The carcasses were all visited the same day and no autopsy could be carried out as they were highly decomposed to an extent that one only had a few pieces of bones left. No cause of death was ascertained and all were deemed to have died naturally.

Three carcasses were examined  Three carcasses were examined

CASE#4 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF 

Date: 18th March 2017

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 1 year

Location: Satao, Tsavo East

Rescue

A report was made by tour operators of an elephant calf that was abandoned near Satao, Tsavo East. The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the young elephant alone and pacing the area. The calf had lost condition and had an injury to the left hind leg. He was quickly captured and taken to the Voi Stockade whilst a rescue plane was organized to take him to the Nairobi Nursery.

A report was made by tour operators of an elephant calf that was abandoned near Satao  

The calf had lost condition and had an injury to the left hind leg  a rescue plane was organized to take him to the Nairobi Nursery

CASE#5 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF 

Date: 21st March 2017

Species: African elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 6 months old

Location: Irima hill, Tsavo East

Rescue

A report was made by KWS rangers of one elephant calf that was abandoned near Irima hill, Tsavo East. The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to rescue the elephant calf so it could be airlifted to the Nairobi Nursery for care.

The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area  it wasbe airlifted to the Nairobi Nursery for care

CASE#6 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT BULL WITH ARROW INJURY

Date:           23rd March 2017

Species:     Elephant

Sex:            Male

Age:            About 35 years

Location:     Ithumba, Tsavo east

History

An elephant bull frequenting the Ithumba Stockade water hole was spotted with an injury on the side of the body. The vet was airlifted by DSWT aircraft to Ithumba.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilized using 18 mgs of Etorphine in a dan-inject dart from a Dan-inject dart gun. The elephant was initially approached on foot but avoided all attempts at darting. He was eventually darted from the helicopter and it took about 6 minutes for the drugs to take full effect.  

Examination revealed a septic wound with pus oozing out on the medial right abdominal area. An arrow head was removed from the wound, then the wound was opened and necrotic tissues mixed with pus drained out. The area was then cleaned using water mixed with hydrogen peroxide before iodine and Oxytetracycline spray were applied. Wetted green clay was then used to cover the wound.

Examination revealed a septic wound with pus oozing out  An arrow head was removed from the wound

An intravenous administration of 50 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was administered through the ear vein and 100 cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.     

Reversal and Prognosis

Drug reversal was done by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose. Prognosis is good.

CASE7 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 23rd March 2017

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 6 months

Location: Dida Harea, Tsavo East

Rescue

A report was made by tour operators of an elephant calf that was abandoned near Dida harea water hole, Tsavo East. The vet team together with the Voi Stockade Team rushed to the area to find the young elephant was already rescued by the Tsavo Trust team and taken to the Voi stockade. The Vet Unit examined the young elephant before the rescue plane arrived. It had no injuries but was in poor condition.

Another calf was rescued by the Big life team and taken to the Ziwani airstrip. Both elephant calves were collected by the same plane and flown to the Nairobi Nursery.

CASE#8 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT CALF

Date:          28th March 2017

Species:     Elephant

Sex:             Female

Age:            About 1.5 years

Location:         Voi River, Tsavo east

History

This elephant calf was spotted by tour drivers along Voi River near Kanderi swamp in a herd of about 8 others. The calf had obvious carrying leg lameness of the hind leg.

Immobilization, examination  and treatment

A decision was made to immobilize the mother and the calf to prevent separation. The mother was immobilized first from a vehicle using 16 mgs of Etorphine. Once the drugs started to take effect the calf was immobilized using 2 mgs of Etorphine and both went down in left lateral recumbency.

The calf’s left hind limb had an old injury at the knee with malformed healing. Nothing could be done for the injury and surgical intervention would not be able to rectify the lameness. The lameness is not life threatening and the young elephant will live with the deformity.

The calf’s left hind limb had an old injury at the knee with malformed healing  Nothing could be done for the injury

An intravenous administration of 20 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was administered through the ear vein and 20 cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.     

Reversal

The anesthetic was reversed by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose and both mother and calf woke up together and walked away calmly. Prognosis is good.

Aerial Assistance  mother and calf woke up together and walked away calmly

Other activities handled by the unit

  • The unit vet travelled to Malindi to testify in a case of elephant trophies recovered from suspects who were charged in Malindi courts

Acknowledgement

The unit also appreciates the support of its sponsors ViER PFOTEN through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) for their immense financial contribution to the unit.  We also thank Kenya Wildlife Service through the Assistant director Tsavo conservation area and the head, veterinary and capture services department for their support.